Corruption and ideology in autocracies

James R. Hollyer, Leonard Wantchekon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Corruption is usually depicted in one of two ways: As stemming from a lack of government accountability, or from a lack of capacity. Neither depiction predicts that the structure of institutions meant to control corruption should vary across autocratic regimes. If corruption results from moral hazard between politicians and citizens, then all unaccountable governments should eschew anticorruption bodies. If rent-seeking stems from moral hazard between politicians and bureaucrats, all governments should create anticorruption bodies. We offer an explanation for why unaccountable governments vary in their willingness to create anticorruption institutions. Autocrats create such bodies to deter ideologically disaffected members of the populace from entering the bureaucracy. Anticorruption institutions act as a commitment by the elite to restrict the monetary benefits from bureaucratic office, thus ensuring that only zealous supporters of the elite will pursue bureaucratic posts. We illustrate these arguments with case studies of South Korea and Rwanda.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-533
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Law


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